The Greatest "Asian History, Political" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 315 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Asian History

Asian History is a category of books that focuses on the historical events, cultures, and societies of Asia. This category includes books that cover a wide range of topics, including the ancient civilizations of China, Japan, and India, the rise and fall of empires, the impact of colonialism, and the modernization of Asian countries. It also includes books that explore the social, political, and economic changes that have shaped the region over time. Overall, Asian History provides readers with a comprehensive understanding of the rich and diverse history of Asia.


The "Political" category of books encompasses works that explore the theory, practice, and history of government and politics. These books may cover topics such as political ideologies, political systems, political institutions, political movements, and political leaders. They may also examine the relationship between politics and other areas of society, such as economics, culture, and international relations. Political books can be both informative and thought-provoking, offering readers insights into the complexities of the political world and the challenges of governing in a democratic society.

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  1. 1. Orientalism by Edward W. Said

    This book is a critical examination of Western attitudes towards the East, particularly the Middle East, and how these attitudes have shaped and continue to shape Western policies and perceptions. The author argues that the West has a long history of viewing the East as the "other," exotic and inferior, and that this view has been institutionalized through academic disciplines, literature, and media. This "Orientalism," as the author calls it, has served to justify colonialism and imperialism, and continues to influence Western attitudes and policies towards the East today.

    The 646th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

    This book provides a comprehensive exploration of the history of the human species, tracing back from the earliest forms of Homo Sapiens to the modern day. It delves into evolutionary biology, the development of cultures and societies, and the rise of major ideologies and technologies. The book also discusses the future of the species, posing thought-provoking questions about our roles and responsibilities in a rapidly changing world.

    The 1438th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. Shah Of Shahs by Ryszard Kapuscinski

    This book is a compelling blend of history and personal narratives, set against the backdrop of Iran's 1979 revolution. The author, a seasoned journalist, delves into the complex tapestry of Iranian society, exploring the rise and fall of the last monarch. Through a series of vignettes and interviews with Iranians from all walks of life, the narrative captures the atmosphere of fear and hope that defined the era. The work is as much an examination of the mechanics of power and the ease with which a society can be manipulated as it is a chronicle of a pivotal moment in Iran's history. The author's lyrical prose and sharp insights offer a timeless reflection on the nature of tyranny and the human struggle for freedom.

    The 2448th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

    This book provides an intimate and eye-opening look into the everyday life of an Afghan family. The narrative follows a bookseller in Kabul, who despite the oppressive Taliban regime, courageously continues his trade. The story delves into his family dynamics, the struggles of his two wives, his children's lives, and the societal norms and customs they navigate. It paints a vivid picture of life in Afghanistan, exploring the themes of love, courage, resilience, and the power of literature.

    The 3346th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. A Comparative Study Of Total Power by Karl August Wittfogel

    The book in question is a scholarly examination of the concept of 'hydraulic civilization,' a term used to describe societies that manage large-scale water projects such as irrigation and flood control. The author argues that the bureaucratic structures necessary to control water resources in arid regions historically led to the centralization of power and the development of autocratic or despotic forms of government. Through comparative analysis, the work explores how the management of water resources influenced social, economic, and political structures, and how this 'total power' shaped the civilizations in question, with a particular focus on Asia. The study delves into the relationship between natural environments, technological capabilities, and the evolution of political systems.

    The 3833rd Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Oriental Despotism by Karl August Wittfogel

    "Oriental Despotism" presents a theory that ancient bureaucratic societies, particularly those in Asia, developed as a result of the need to manage large-scale irrigation systems. The author argues that the control of water resources in arid regions led to the creation of centralized, autocratic power structures, which he terms "hydraulic despotisms." These governments wielded significant control over their subjects, as the management and distribution of water was crucial for agriculture and survival. The book explores how this form of governance influenced the political and social structures of various Eastern civilizations, contrasting them with Western societies that developed under different ecological conditions.

    The 4778th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. The Rise And Fall Of The Great Powers by Paul Kennedy

    The book in question offers a comprehensive analysis of the economic and military factors that have shaped the relative power of nations from the 16th century to the late 20th century. It argues that the rise and fall of great powers are closely linked to their ability to manage economic resources and maintain military strength. The author examines the patterns of history to show how the overextension of an empire's resources often leads to decline, and suggests that managing the balance between wealth and power is crucial for the longevity of a great power. The book also provides insights into the potential future of global power dynamics by considering the implications of these historical patterns for contemporary superpowers.

    The 5115th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

    "Nothing to Envy" is a non-fiction narrative that provides an in-depth look at life in North Korea through the eyes of six defectors. The book covers a span of 15 years, during which the country faced a devastating famine. It explores the lives of ordinary citizens, their indoctrination, their gradual realization of the truth about their government, and their decision to defect. The book paints a vivid picture of the harsh realities of life under a totalitarian regime and the struggle for survival and escape.

    The 5654th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. Ghost Wars by Steve Coll

    "Ghost Wars" is an in-depth exploration of the complex history of Afghanistan from the Soviet invasion in 1979 to just before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The book provides an intricate account of the CIA's role and America's foreign policy in Afghanistan, the rise of the Taliban, and the emergence of Osama Bin Laden. It also details the numerous missed opportunities to capture or kill Bin Laden, and the failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks.

    The 5962nd Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Fire in the Lake by Frances FitzGerald

    This book is an in-depth analysis of the Vietnam War from the perspective of the Vietnamese people and culture. The author explores the historical, cultural, and social factors that contributed to the conflict, providing a comprehensive understanding of the war beyond the American involvement. It delves into the roots of Vietnamese nationalism, the impact of French colonialism, and the ideological differences between North and South Vietnam, giving the reader a nuanced view of this complex period in history.

    The 6246th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. The Vanishing Generation: Faith And Uprising In Modern Uzbekistan by Bagila Bukharbayeva

    "The Vanishing Generation: Faith And Uprising In Modern Uzbekistan" explores the complex relationship between faith, politics, and social change in contemporary Uzbekistan. Through in-depth interviews and extensive research, the author delves into the lives of young Uzbeks who are navigating the challenges of religious identity, political repression, and the desire for societal transformation. This thought-provoking book sheds light on the struggles and aspirations of a generation caught between tradition and modernity in a rapidly changing society.

    The 7848th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. How Asia Works by Joe Studwell

    This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the economic development in nine Asian countries, focusing on the policies and strategies that have driven their growth. It contrasts successful economies like Japan, South Korea, and China with less successful ones in Southeast Asia, examining land reforms, manufacturing policies, and financial control. The author argues that the successful countries followed a similar developmental path by implementing land reform to support smallholder farming, focusing on manufacturing with strict productivity goals, and controlling the financial sector to support these policies. The book challenges conventional economic theories and offers insights into the mechanisms behind Asia's economic transformations.

    The 8775th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. A Line In The Sand by James Barr

    This book delves into the complex history of the modern Middle East, focusing on the post-World War I era when Britain and France drew arbitrary borders, creating new nations and sowing the seeds for future conflicts. It examines the clandestine struggle between these colonial powers as they vied for dominance in the region, often at the expense of the local populations. The narrative reveals how the duplicitous actions and broken promises of Western powers during this period set the stage for enduring turmoil and established a legacy of distrust and instability that continues to affect the geopolitics of the Middle East to this day.

    The 9664th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos

    "Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China" is a vivid exploration of contemporary China. The book delves into the lives of everyday citizens, from dissidents to entrepreneurs, and their pursuit of wealth, freedom, and faith amidst the country's rapid modernization. It provides an in-depth look into the country's socio-political landscape, including its struggles with censorship and corruption, as well as the aspirations and challenges faced by its people in the face of change.

    The 10950th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. The Blood Telegram by Gary J. Bass

    "The Blood Telegram" is a gripping historical account that explores the devastating 1971 genocide in Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, and the complex political maneuvers during the Cold War era. The book focuses on the moral dilemmas and foreign policy decisions faced by the United States, particularly under the Nixon administration, which, despite receiving detailed reports from its own consul general in Dhaka about the atrocities committed by the Pakistani military, chose to support Pakistan due to its strategic interests. This decision was influenced by the U.S.'s desire to use Pakistan as a conduit for opening relations with China, sidelining the horrific human rights abuses and the desperate pleas for help. The narrative is a powerful indictment of realpolitik and the often catastrophic human cost of geopolitical strategy.

    The 11379th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines by Stanley Karnow

    This book provides a comprehensive historical account of the relationship between the United States and the Philippines, from the time of Spanish colonial rule, through American occupation and its aftermath. It explores the motivations, actions and impacts of American imperialism in the Philippines, highlighting the cultural, political and economic influences that continue to shape the Philippines today. The book also delves into the complex interplay of power, resistance, and collaboration between the Americans and the Filipinos, providing a nuanced understanding of colonialism and its enduring effects.

    The 11647th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.